The director of Harley Aesthetics Dr Mark Harrison has been suspended, following exposure in a BBC investigation that he encouraged nurses to buy Botox in one person’s name for use on another.
The undercover investigation into one of the largest buyers of Botox in the UK had also previously led to the ban on remote prescribing of Botox by doctors unless they’d met with their patients face to face.
Dr Harrison will not be able to practise as a doctor for up to 18 months, pending a review. And the General Medical Council (GMC) will now determine if he faces a fitness to practise panel.
The leading Harley Street Botox doctor had formed a big network of nurses who’d call him to gain authorisation to inject a patient with Botox, paying £30 per call. Legally, only nurses with a prescribing qualification can prescribe any drug without referring to a doctor – and yet, in the secret filming undertaken as part of the BBC investigation, Dr Harrison was shown to encourage nurses to order the anti-wrinkle drug in one person’s name for use on another, and told nurses unable to get through to him on the phone to give the Botox to the patient anyway and he’d contact the patient later on.
“If you can’t get a signal, what you might do is do the treatment and then you ring through with the details and the phone number and we guarantee we’ll always ring the client after the event,” Dr Harrison said during the secret filming, adding “That may be after the event, which is a little bit naughty.”
When the BBC called claiming to have a new patient already injected with the aesthetic medicine, Dr Harrison left a message on the “patient’s” voicemail and sent a prescription.
Such a practice would not only mean the nurse in question was effectively breaking the law but that the safety of the patient was potentially compromised.
In a statement, Dr Harrison said he’d carried out more than 50,000 remote consultations in the past seven years, with no adverse impact on patient health.
He went on to say that the practice of prescribing in one person’s name for use on another was “common, almost universal practice throughout the aesthetics industry” with “no consequence for patient safety”. But added a doctor calling a patient after an injection had been given “would never be encouraged and would never be acceptable for a new patient”.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC said: “There are good reasons why these are prescription-only medicines and we believe doctors should assess any patient in person before issuing a prescription of this kind.”
The GMC will publish new rules later this month, banning doctors from remotely prescribing Botox and other injectable aesthetic medicines.